Bobby’s Sunday Meteorological Voice Volume 2, Episode 11

#njweather #BSMV #NorCast

When You Find Yourself in a “Straightly Twisted” Wind Situation

Good Sunday Morning! I’m Chief Meteorologist Bobby Klark at Bobby’s Weather and Weekend Meteorologist at Noreaster Nick, all under the umbrella of NorCast TV with my, can we finally say, weekly blog where I take on the good, the bad, and the ugly in our profession of Meteorology and Media. But first…

Still in a muggy, humid air mass which will allow several chances of scattered showers and storms today, with the most notable coming later this afternoon and evening, where ironically, we are talking about in this blog, could go severe.

This past Thursday morning, I got an alert that a severe thunderstorm warning shortly before 5 AM. I would have normally started to stir around that time in bed so wasn’t anything alarming. I checked our radar at norcast.tv, was a decent super cell that you could see was producing some decent wind. That warning stayed as a thunderstorm warning and was extended from Gloucester and Camden counties to Camden and Burlington counties. Again, nothing really signaled a major issue. TBH, I was more concerned about warning in Ocean and Monmouth County, as a decent bow echo/gust front set up.

About 2 hours later, I read some of the storm reports. the Monmouth/Ocean County warning produced a tree to be uplifted out of the ground. The source: social media. OK. new one for me that the NWS would look a picture on social media and determine as storm damage but, hey, tech has taken over our lives, right?

Let’s go back to the Gloucester and Camden County Warning though, which has created some local meteorological buzz. My colleague Nick Pittman and I were texting back and forth for a good portion of the early morning. Finally, he said he was going to check things out after a viewer sent a picture of a lumberjack-like tree that was uprooted in someone’s front yard. I interviewed Nick, and his analysis came as follows:

“On Thursday morning around 11am I set off to visit Dear Park Circle, a community viewers told me was damaged by the storms. I approached as saw trees on homes, fences blown over and debris scattered about a small, roughly 1000′ area of the neighborhood. 

I spoke to a couple folks on the scene, including one tree removal service who has been to every major event we’ve had here in South Jersey in the past 15 years. One thing that was very consistent was the “big gust of wind” and how the direction of the trees, fences, debris was oriented – in the same direction. 

After about 45 minutes to an hour walking around looking at all angles, I made the determination that it was likely a straight line wind gust that created the damage given the orientation of everything… in the same direction. Now, my expertise is in forecasting and broadcasting, not surveying, so I will defer to the NWS HOWEVER I did send the photos I took over to a former NWS meteorologist who spent four decades surveying this type of stuff and he confirmed my beliefs. 

I’ve been to tornado damaged scenes before. Everything is mangled and thrown around haphazardly. It just didn’t look like a tornado based on what the people I talked to told me and the damage itself. I suppose a VERY brief touch and go twister was possible, but I’m sure SOMEONE would have seen something as the skies start brightening up around that time. There was weak rotation, sure. Doesn’t mean it was a tornado, however. I DO agree with the NWS that the winds were between 80-100mph.”

This puzzled me considering the pictures Nick posted on his main Noreaster Nick page. I have chased tornadoes over 25 years, I have F0 damage, I have seen F4 damage, and ALL show some sort of damage that goes in opposite directions. so, to see all of Nick’s pictures show everything in a straight really had me scratching my head (and showing more and more grey hair).

My first question to Nick after the NWS declared this was an F1 tornado was “Was the touchdown in a different place where you were”. And it wasn’t. I had to reread the statement sent out by the NWS, which the part of supposed proof of the official tornado designation, said: “The tornado then moved northeast, almost parallel 
to Deer Park Circle where a hardwood tree was uprooted and fell 
on the fence line. Multiple large tree limbs were then snapped at 
multiple properties up towards the northeast extent of Deer Park 
Circle. Debris was also noted on either side of the road in both 
directions.”

That pretty much sealed the deal. Tree branches on both sides of the road, nearly 9 hours after the “touchdown” allowed this to be a tornado. And yet, someone who is a qualified, common-sense weatherperson in Pittman, showing up under 5 hours later, clearly saw ALL debris in one direction? Seems odd.

Nick later posted an image of the exact moment that “tornado” touched down. He not only showed such weak rotation but it wasn’t even in a tight, almost two way highway, rotation. It was spread apart.

What that means, Nick does a great job explaining this. When we look for rotation in a storm. we look for winds that are “going towards the radar” and winds “going away from the radar”. Nick and most people that have that type of radar, that is represented by red and green. So, the deeper the colors of red and green that are next to each other, the more rotation is involved with the storm. The cover picture of this blog shows that image. here’s why we can use the radar as proof of straight-line winds. Notice the gap in between the winds going in different directions. It creates what you could call a “tunnel” which the energy draws in both sets of winds and puts in one direction. That’s how you can determine straight-line winds based on a radar imagine.

The other questionable issue is Nick in his quote above mentioned the damage was about 1000 feet. In the NWS determination, it was .26 miles. How can there be THAT much discrepancy? Did someone take branches and start throwing them all over the place? Of course that’s silly, but again the timing. Nick showed up at least 3 hours before the NWS. Winds were still breezy (out of the northwest thankfully why we had a nice, low humidity day), so not out of the realm that “leaves and branches” moved.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory; all we do in this blog and bring you what people are saying and to hold accountability. There is a new generation (Pepsi?) of Mets out there and I would be lying if I said it’s not pretty. I dealt with it, most recently, in Missouri and West Virginia. If a former NWS employee for many years, as quoted by Nick, clearly thought it was straight line winds, maybe some us dinosaurs that have been doing this so long, carry some merit in rate in how we determine how events are issued… Or are we just going to accept the continued over-hyping of the weather in general?

Thank you for joining me this week. Any comments, questions, or maybe you something that you want answered through this blog, you can post below or can email me at bobbyklarktv@gmail.com. Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

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